Why FastPass+ has improved standby wait times at old FASTPASS attractions – and why others suffer for it

Over a year ago, when FastPass+ just started to roll out with restrictions on what you could select, I posted the following on the DISboards, explaining why I predicted that standby wait times would actually go DOWN at the original FASTPASS attractions with FastPass+:

It can be argued that those riding TSM more than once are likely doing so via Fastpass, at least once. Not all, but probably the majority. Some are very likely to be doing it using multiple Fastpasses.

Now, if you can only get one FP+, what happens? Warning…assumptions ahead, but based on observation and logic!!! (No, Doc, don’t bring logic into this!!!)

Assumption 1: Regardless if you can get more FP+ in the park, you can still only get one per attraction.

Assumption 2: Those riding TSM with FP/FP+ will not be required to have to choose a FP+ for TSM or something else due to number of FP+ limitations or potential tiering of attractions.

Let’s give names to different classes of TSM riders. And see if I can pull together a coherent argument despite interruptions.

The “duplicates”. They get multiple FPs through the day for TSM, and ride 2+ times via FP, and potentially via standby as well, although if they do I expect it isn’t more than once.

The “fast-and-slows”. They ride twice – once standby, once FP.

The “one-and-dones”. They only ride once, either standby or FP, but are at least FP-savvy.

The “don’t-get-its”, those who don’t understand FP, and probably still won’t understand FP+.

Now, the “fast-and-slows” aren’t likely to change at all, since the changes don’t affect them as far as this argument goes (they may need to make a choice and give up their TSM FP+ for something else, but lets assume they don’t need to make that choice). So we can ignore them.

The “don’t-get-its” also aren’t likely to change. They are still a constant in the standby lines with their glares.

The duplicates are definitely affected, as they now can’t get more than one FP. So what do they do? They can still ride multiple times, but they have to do it via standby. Some will, but I have a feeling most likely only do so because of FP, and won’t. So while a few might go standby and increase the line there, others won’t. So less FP usage, with a lesser increase in standby usage. This alone would be a standby win as standby users will take the missing FP slots. Advantage: Standby.

Now the “one-and-dones” are also affected. Those that end up in the standby line simply because there are no FPs available after noon, now have the potential to get a FP+ given up by the former duplicates. They likely will fill all those slots again – but then they are taking themselves out of the standby line on a 1-for-1 basis. So although the FP+ line goes back to before, the standby line decreases by the same degree, so it is shorter. Advantage: Standby.

Now of course there could be outliers – former one-and-dones that become opportunistic fast-and-slows now that a FP+ is dangled in front of them, but in the same token some duplicates and fast-and-slows may opt all the way down to one-and-dones. And for each former duplicate that used to ride 3+ times and now drops to 1, there are that many more slots opened for others.

That’s why I’m actually seeing this as a potential win for the standby line.

Where this might not work as well where Assumption 2 breaks down more easily, like at MK, where there is a higher percentage of top-tier attractions. If you only have 3 FP+, and have to choose between the 3 (soon to be 4) mountains, Peter Pan, etc. Then you’ll have guests that may be forced into a fifth category, “I’d FP+ it but I’m out and forced to ride standby”, and this could see an increase in the standby line. This was worse when it seemed you’d only be able to get one top-tier FP+ – but this could also be a reason why they changed it.

As it turns out, I was right…turning to the great folks at TouringPlans.com, who have been collecting wait time data for many years now, they’ve analyzed the difference in standby wait times, and it shows that it was in fact a win for the standby line – not much in some cases, but still a win. The most popular attractions – Toy Story Mania, Space Mountain, etc. – saw the best increases – as they were likely the attractions that guests would re-ride as much as possible in the old system.

What I didn’t get in to was at the opposite end, although the results there should be somewhat self-evident…standby wait times at other attractions got longer.

There are a few reasons for this. First, more attractions have FastPass+ than had FASTPASS before – which means people could select it as one of their choices. In some cases they would be the same people that would have been in the standby line, but also in others – notably Epcot and Hollywood Studios, where you have a tiered system – they are forced to choose them and may even utilize them where they might not have bothered at all before. The standby wait times on these attractions would generally not go down – more likely either stay the same or go up. And that is indeed what happened.

One particular exception was The Great Movie Ride, where the standby time went down…why? Well, for starters, at least from anecdotal experience, the ride often ran at less than full capacity. While two full trainsets could be utilized, it often only used one, and even then people weren’t packed in. The standby wait was usually the time it took before they could send the next train through. That means that it can take on more people without affecting the wait times, and so it could absorb the people who otherwise wouldn’t ride it – and some that would have opted for the FastPass+ instead. But it is still puzzling that the wait time went down – unless they’ve increased the capacity by using two trains when they’ve previously used one, perhaps in anticipation of the new interest in the attraction thanks to FastPass+.

That could change, as last week GMR was “promoted” to a Tier 1 attraction – which means people must make the choice between it and other Tier 1 attractions when making their initial selections. Still, it could be a popular post-preselect choice if they are available later in the day.